We are on a ferry travelling to Heligoland. The ferry is crowded and noisy and we have a hard time keeping track of each other. On land, I have an appointment with a surgeon who makes two large incisions in my abdomen. His operating theater is the back room of a pub. He remembers something he must get and puts a large brown sticky bandage on my abdomen.
I wait for a while but I know that he is not coming back. I get up and try to find R and the friends we have been travelling with but the crowds push me towards the railway station and I take a train home.
When I walk into the house, R and all his things are gone.
I rarely remember my dreams. This one felt like a cold wind when I woke from it and I had to get up, wrapped myself into a blanket and went downstairs where R was going through his early morning teacher routine (listening to the world service, reading on his phone and drinking black tea). Like a child who cannot keep a secret I blurted out my dream and he looked at me and said, it's just a memory of your mother, go back to bed.
In the late 1980s, my mother repeatedly tried to kill herself - unsuccessfully. I wasn't there, I have no idea how serious she was, how much of it may have been due to whatever mix of drugs and drink she was trying to shake off. I had left all that behind me years ago. I was safe and sound living in paradise.
My sister eventually forcefully persuaded her to spend some time in a fancy clinic on the North Sea coast and when she returned home after several weeks, probably sober and with good intentions, my father had packed up his stuff and left like a thief in the night.
Years later during one of our rare visits she told me that while in the clinic, she had read a travel guide to paradise and had made inquiries about airline tickets and vaccinations, putting all her hopes of recovery, of saving her marriage, into visiting the daughter who had abandoned her and who was now living in a tiny African country. And while she told me this, she started to cry and then she pulled the travel guide from the bookshelf and threw it into my face and I left. That was not a dream. That was how we communicated.
Heligoland is a rather dismal place, a small island in the middle of the rough sea, crowded with day visitors buying duty free booze. At least that's what it looked like in the summer of 1978. But i was seasick and supposedly chaperoning a group of troubled teenagers. A job I got through the student union.